• ‘Odette’ sinks cargo ship, 11 Indian crew missing

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    TROPICAL Storm “Odette” (international name: Khanun) crossed the West Philippine Sea and out of the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) but not before dumping rain in parts of Luzon, including Metro Manila, and causing a cargo ship to sink with 11 of its crew still missing.

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    The 33,205-ton Emerald Star with 26 Indian nationals on board sent a distress signal early Friday as the Hong Kong-registered vessel was sailing some 280 kilometers (174 miles) east of the northern tip of the Philippines, said a statement from the Japanese coastguard, which received the distress signal.

    Three other vessels sailing near the area rescued 15 crewmembers but 11 others were still missing, a Japanese coastguard spokesman said, adding that the cargo ship had sunk.

    “We have dispatched two patrol boats and three planes to the site but a typhoon has made a rescue difficult,” the spokesman added.

    The Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said that as of 5 p.m. on Friday, Odette was 205 kilometers (km) west of Sinait, Ilocos Sur.

    It packed maximum winds of up to 90 kilometers per hour (kph) and gustiness of up to 113 kph.
    Rainfall was still expected to be moderate to heavy within Odette’s 400-km diameter.

    The tropical storm was forecast to move west-northwest at 15 kph.

    Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Batanes, Babuyan Group of Islands and Pangasinan were placed under Signal No. 1 while the storm signal in Cagayan, Isabela, Apayao, Abra, Kalinga, Ifugao and Benguet has been lowered, according to Pagasa.

    Pagasa warned of rains with gusty winds over areas under Signal no. 1.

    The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) raised a “blue alert” on Friday.

    A “blue alert” means member agencies of the NDRRMC will conduct 24/7 monitoring of “Odette,” which remains inside the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR).

    These agencies are the Pagasa, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the Department of Health (DoH), Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine National Police (PNP) and Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).

    The NDRRMC also held its Emergency Response Preparedness Response meeting, which the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), Department of Transportation (DOTr), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) attended.

    In its initial report on “Odette” yesterday, the NDRRMC said there were seven non-passable bridges in the provinces of Isabela and Cagayan.

    These were the Alicaocao Overflow bridge in Cauayan City, Isabela, which has not been passable since Wednesday; Sta. Maria-Cabagan Overflow bridge in Sta. Maria, Isabela; and Sto. Tomas-Canzan Overflow bridge in Sto. Tomas, Isabela, which have not been passable since Thursday.

    In Cagayan Valley, four bridges were declared not passable since Thursday.

    These were: Bagunot and Abusag bridges in Baggao, Cagayan; and Tawi and Cabasan bridges in Peñablanca, Cagayan.

    At 12:40 a.m. Friday, “Odette” made landfall over Santa Ana, Northern Cagayan and slightly intensified as it crossed the province.

    Moderate to heavy rain were forecast in Zambales and Bataan, which may trigger flashfloods and landslides while the western sections of Central and Northern Luzon, including Metro Manila, the Visayas and Zamboanga Peninsula will still experience scattered light to moderate rains with thunderstorms.

    with DEMPSEY REYES AND AFP

     

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